XL Web Services Blog

Social Media and Your Online Reputation




Do you really know how you appear to prospects?  Gone are the days when eye contact and a firm handshake made your first impression on a potential client.  In this brave new world of the digital age, the first encounter prospects will likely have with you will be through search engines.  It’s an important concept to keep in mind as you create and build your online reputation.


Reality Check

Run a Google search using your name and industry.  This is likely to be the first thing people see regarding you.  Remember that old MySpace account that you haven’t touched since 2008?  The one with the pictures from that trip to Mexico with your old college chums?  It may not be the best first impression.  It’s time to delete dormant account profiles and restrict privacy settings on current accounts.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate.

Establish Presence

Social media is a great way to build your online reputation.  Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, blogs and other social media outlets score high in Google’s search algorithm.  Be sure to keep your reputation in mind when building your profile.  Include search words in your bio and descriptions.  Remember that by engaging in conversations, you keep your name and your reputation relevant.  Keep in mind that the adage for the digital age may well be:  Content. Content.  Content.  Create a photo album. Upload videos.  Create podcasts.  Maintain a blog.  Blogs are also especially helpful in establishing you as a thought leader in your industry but all of the above demonstrate desire, commitment and creativity. 

Maintenance

Once you’ve established yourself online, you’ll still want to know what’s being said about you.  Google Alerts is a free service that notifies you by email of any mentions of you.  This allows you to have a good feel for where you reputation stands and make you aware of any potential problems.  You don’t need to delete negative feedback but you do need to respond to it.  This demonstrates both maturity and your seriousness about customer satisfaction.

Facebook VS Google

Facebook has been king of the social media mountain for quite sometime now.  But let’s face it, Facebook was designed to connect us with our friends, family and those people from grade school we’d forgotten about until that Friend Request showed up this morning.  Facebook has taken flak for its lax privacy rules.  Most recently, Facebook, hacker group Anonymous has threatened to take Facebook out over privacy issues although they haven’t said exactly how they’ll attack.





Google+ has already made a big splash in the social media world for personal users who like its more stringent privacy rules.  Google has also recently confirmed that they soon offer Google+ business profile pages.  The potential is huge for small to mid-size businesses.  Google+ is still very much the new kid on the social media block, but it has all the right things going for it.  When the business pages for Google+ are launched, it will be interesting to see how quickly it catches up to (and maybe even surpasses) Facebook’s business pages. 

Check out why PC World thinks Google+ will beat out Facebook for business users:

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/235272/why_google_business_profiles_will_trump_facebook_pages.html

For more information on social media, reputation management, or marketing for your business, contact us. We can help you decide what direction to take for your business and help you build your online community! 

What’s In A Twitter Following?

There have been a number of stories in the news recently involving Twitter and political figures. GOP 2012 hopeful Newt Gingrich has boasted of having six times the Twitter followers of all the other GOP candidates combined. For the sake of comparison, Newt has over 1 million followers while Lady Gaga has over 12 million. But what exactly do those numbers mean? For someone trying to establish high numbers, such a political candidate or a pop star, they don’t worry too much about their message getting out. They just want followers.

Building a huge following is like screaming into the Grand Canyon. There’s plenty of space but is anyone really listening? In the case of Gabrielle Giffords, CSPAN announcers were listening. I was watching live when the announcer’s voice broke in to explain why thunderous applause had suddenly erupted on the floor of the House. Her triumphant return to the House floor had been announced on Twitter just minutes before she appeared to cast her vote on raising the debt ceiling. That quickly sparked rumors about her possible run for re-election.

Political campaign donors are looking to bet on a sure thing. A large number of followers can be one way to measure popularity.

Social Media For Business



Do you see social media as a toy intended for teenagers or for forty-somethings to reconnect with long, lost buddies before that next big reunion? Did you know a growing segment of social media users frequently check and update their Facebook and Twitter accounts from their smartphones on a regular basis? But can all that tweeting and liking work for your business?

Here a few things to consider:

• Cost Effectiveness
The bulk of the cost of social media is spent on the time and human resources of managing your online marketing. Compared to print, broadcast or even online marketing, social media is far less expensive and in many ways more effective.

• Customer Feedback
Social media offers a quick, easy way for customers to share their experience of your company. Positive feedback including comments and “likes” demonstrate to potential customers the value your company provides. Any negative feedback offers the opportunity to win back a dissatisfied customer with a prompt response to their experience.

• Engagement
The biggest draw of social media is the feeling of being connected and engaged. Being engaged with your customers goes beyond merely collecting their demographic information. As you build your company’s social media presence, you demonstrate that you care about your customers. You want their opinions, are willing to take suggestions and will work to correct any misunderstandings. Your responses to both positive and negative feedback will build your company’s reputation as a company that listens and responds.

• Keep Tabs On Your Competition
Social media allows you to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. It also allows you to see how people are reacting to it. What’s working or not working for them? Can you build on it?

• Thought Leadership
By posting on industry expertise and knowledge, people will view your company as a resource they can trust.

One final thought: most users will ask for a referral from their friends on social media before looking anywhere else. So, love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Why not take advantage of it?